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Female Israeli soldier called to Torah at military synagogue

An Orthodox female Israeli soldier was called up to the Torah during holiday services on a military base, in what was being called a first.


At Simchat Torah services last week at a base in Haifa, the soldier received an aliyah from the gabbai, a civilian employee of the military, according to Kipa, a Modern Orthodox Hebrew-language website. The site said it was the first time a woman has been called to the Torah in a military synagogue.

Many of the men participating in the service were Orthodox and part of the Hesder Yeshiva program. While they were upset or uncomfortable with the situation, they decided not to prevent the soldier from having her aliyah in order not to embarrass her.

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According to Kipa, the soldier, who is training to be a Navy intelligence officer, graduated from a major national religious women’s seminary and participated regularly in services on the base.

Israeli military bases operate according to traditional Orthodox Jewish law, which does not allow women to be called to the Torah. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told Kipa in a statement, “Following the incident, an inquiry was initiated to clear the air and to clarify policies regarding such occurrences in the future.”


Police: Lifting of gag order came from top Israeli officials

The instruction to lift a gag order on the arrest of a spy for Iran came from top Israeli government officials and could be an attempt to combat a softening on Iran.

The Petach Tikvah Magistrates’ Court on Monday agreed to extend the remand of Iranian-born Ali Mansouri, who traveled throughout Israel as Belgian businessman Alex Mans, for another eight days.

A gag order on the Sept. 11 arrest of Mansouri at Ben-Gurion Airport was lifted on Sunday.

A police official said during Monday’s court hearing that the decision to lift the gag order came from high-level government officials.

The decision to go public with news about the spy appears timed to coincide with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States, where he will attempt to combat the recent softening of President Obama and the Western world’s stance toward Iran.

Posing as a Belgian businessman, Mansouri is believed to have been spying on Israel for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He was carrying photographs of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv when he was arrested.

Mansouri lived in Iran until 1980, and then in Turkey until 1997, when he received a visa for Belgium and changed his name. He married a Belgian woman, from whom he is now divorced.

According to reports, Mans has lived in Iran since 2007 and is married to an Iranian woman.

He reportedly told Israeli investigators that he was recruited by Iranian intelligence, the Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force, to spy on Israel and was promised about $1 million for his services.

Chinese foundation donates $130 million to Technion

A Chinese foundation has donated $130 million to Israel’s Technion institute, the Israeli university’s largest-ever donation.

The Li Ka Shing Foundation on Sunday announced the donation to the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Along with benefiting Technion students and researchers, the funds will be used to establish the Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology in China, according to the Technion.

Guangdong Province and Shantou Municipal Government also will contribute $147 million to fund construction and initial operations of the Technion Guangdong Institute, as well as provide land for the campus.

A memorandum of understanding between the universities was signed Sunday in Tel Aviv in the presence of Li Ka Shing Foundation and Hutchison Whampoa chairman Li Ka-shing. The agreement must be approved by the Technion and Chinese authorities.

The Technion Guangdong Institute will begin offering undergraduate programs in civil and environmental engineering and computer sciences in the 2014 academic year.

Li’s private investment company, Horizon Ventures, invested in the navigation app Waze in 2011. Globes reported that Li’s profit from the sale of Waze to Google earlier this year was part of the donation to Technion. — JTA News and Features 

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